Flyers

Kids will be kids — and the Flyers love it

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Kids will be kids — and the Flyers love it

VOORHEES, N.J. — Dave Hakstol has devised a lot of successful combinations this season.

Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere.

But the Flyers' coach is not about to take credit for the unique and rather quirky pairing of Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny.

Oh, they have chemistry alright, even though it has nothing to do with the head coach’s line combinations.

Konecny and Patrick’s bond started to become apparent once they began sharing a hotel room on road trips. 

“I started with Provorov and then a few guys got called up and then we switched off and we started rooming together,” Patrick said Wednesday. “It just kind of happened. We have a really good relationship and it’s been lots of fun.”

Patrick can’t put his finger on it precisely, but a rough estimate for when it happened would be sometime around the holidays when the Flyers were laboring through a 1-2-1 stretch not long after their six-game winning streak.

Conveniently, their “buddy system” has spilled over into the locker room whether it’s a routine day of practice, a morning skate or a thrilling overtime win. If they’re at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, or in the visitor’s locker room of the opposition’s arena, the nameplates of Konecny and Patrick are always right next to each other. The two bang into each other while also expressing this juvenile sense of humor that only they seem to understand.

Watching their behavior is reminiscent of the days of spit wads, wet willies and flicking your best friend in the ear lobe — at least in my generation.

“He probably brings out the immaturity in me a little bit,” Patrick said. “He’s a really funny guy and I don’t know if he ever runs out of energy. He’s always talking 24/7. He’s just a pretty funny guy.”

These kind of relationships are commonly formed in college dormitories, but Patrick and Konecny are forging that bond now at hockey’s highest level. Patrick always knew about Konecny and vice versa, but considering Patrick played in the Western Hockey League and Konecny was honing his skills in the Ontario Hockey League, their paths never crossed until the Flyers drafted Patrick this past summer.

“It developed right when I got here,” Patrick said. “He was a super nice guy to me when I got here. He made me feel welcomed here.”

They’re now the odd couple with a lot in common. Obviously passionate about hockey, they also share a love of the outdoors whether it’s hunting or fishing, and they apparently possess a sense of humor that Beavis and Butt-Head would seem to appreciate, especially with their movie selections.

“They’re just stupid, funny movies,” Patrick said. “A lot of guys give it to us that they’re the dumbest movies ever. We just cry laughing watching them.”

“I feel like I’m quoting their movies as much as they are,” Jordan Weal said. “It’s pretty funny when you see those two getting together. It’s fun to join in and get the banter going. It’s a 19 and a 20-year-old kid. They’re having a lot of fun, they’re playing really well. They’re getting to room together on the road all over the country. They’re having fun right now and it’s good to see.”

It should come as little surprise that both Patrick and Konecny have elevated their play since they became road trip roommates. Konecny has torn it up on a line with Giroux and Couturier, and Patrick has become much more assertive offensively over the past few weeks and is now centering Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds. Following Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Carolina, Patrick was awarded the Rick Flair “Nature Boy” robe as the game’s top player for the first time this season, and when Patrick scored the game-tying goal with 2.6 seconds remaining against the Senators, Konecny rushed over to celebrate. 

The Patrick-Konecny dynamic is a reminder throughout this intensity-filled season with the tension and stress that comes in the constant battle for playoff positioning, they’re still just kids enjoying a kid’s game.

Wednesday morning was another optional skate that many veterans sat out in an effort to rest their bodies, but Patrick and Konecny were right there along with the healthy scratches from the previous night. 

“Sometimes when you get in late and you've got to come to the rink the next day and have a practice, it’s always nice to have guys who keep it loose and keep it light to lift the spirits up a bit,” Weal said.

“That’s a hard thing to do. There are expectations among everybody individually,” Hakstol said. “There are a lot of things that go into being positive and productive when you come to the rink. Those two guys continue to grow together and the fact that they can help each other in doing that a little bit, I think that’s a positive. If those two young guys can draw off one another, that’s good for our team.”

Flyers vs. Lightning: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Lightning: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The hottest team in hockey will finally host the team that hasn’t turned down the heat all season.

With an NHL best 12-2-1 record since Jan. 12, the Flyers (28-24-7, 63 pts.) will continue their frenzied push for a playoff spot as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning (45-11-4, 94 pts.) for the final time this season.

The Flyers will look to avoid their first season sweep against the Lightning since the 2013-14 season.

Let's take a look at tonight's essentials: 

• When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. 
• Where: Wells Fargo Center
• Broadcast: NBCSP
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers recalled goaltender Brian Elliott from his conditioning loan with the Phantoms and have activated him from injured reserve to the active roster (see story). Elliott will back up Carter Hart for tonight’s game against the Lightning.

Hart will be the fourth different Flyers goaltender the Lightning have faced in their last four meetings with Michal Neuvirth, Cal Pickard and Petr Mrazek as the others. 

After a 2-4-1 start to his career, Hart is 11-2-0 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage over his last 13 appearances. 

• Tonight’s matchup is the 100th meeting between the Flyers and Lightning with the Flyers owning a 47-37-8-7 advantage.

In the first matchup at the Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 17, the Lightning became the sixth team in league history to cough up a four-goal lead in the third period before winning 6-5 in overtime. Ironically, the Flyers matched that same dubious feat when they lost a 5-1 lead to the Red Wings on Saturday before Travis Konecny pulled through with the game-winner in overtime.

In the Dec. 27 rematch at Amalie Arena, the Flyers battled back from a three-goal deficit in the third period, tying the game before Tampa Bay won it again in the OT period.  

• The speed of Lightning has been blinding so far this season. Tampa Bay needed just 58 games to reach the 90-point plateau. Only eight teams in NHL history have topped 90 points prior to their 60th regular-season game.

It’s a good test. If we find a way to squeak into the playoffs it’s a possible matchup for us. We’re excited about this game. The games we’ve played against them have been fun to play. I don’t see why tonight won’t be fun.

-Claude Giroux

Would you believe the 1979-80 Flyers hold the record? Pat Quinn’s team ripped off a 35-game unbeaten streak and started that season with a 39-4-13 mark for 91 points in their first 56 games.

• Tampa Bay is also the first team since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins to have three 70-point scorers before the 60-game mark of the season. 

Remarkably, the NHL’s leading scorer and Hart Trophy favorite Nikita Kucherov is on pace to finish with a whopping 135 points. Even if Kucherov finishes with 101 points, he will have increased his point total every season since entering the league in 2013-14.

Kucherov comes to Philadelphia on a five-game point streak with seven goals and 11 assists, an average of 3.6 points per game.

Projected lineup

Forwards
James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jake Voracek
Scott Laughton-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Phil Varone-Justin Bailey

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Andrew MacDonald-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hägg-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers recall Brian Elliott from conditioning assignment with Phantoms

Flyers recall Brian Elliott from conditioning assignment with Phantoms

VOORHEES, N.J. — Brian Elliott will be back in a Flyers sweater for the first time since Nov. 15. 

The 33-year-old goaltender was recalled Tuesday from his conditioning assignment with the Phantoms and is expected to back up Carter Hart for Tuesday’s game against the Lightning.

It will be interesting to see what Elliott’s future in Philadelphia is for the remainder of this season with the addition of Cam Talbot, who wasn’t with his new team for Wednesday’s morning skate in Voorhees.

Elliott could be traded to a contending team with no roster restrictions after the Feb. 25 deadline, although NHL teams still have to be compliant with the salary cap.

Once again, the Flyers have three goaltenders on the active roster with Hart, Elliott and Mike McKenna. McKenna could be placed on waivers as soon as Talbot is cleared to join the team.

Elliott played admirably in his 14 games prior to his injury with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. However, his 6-7-0 record doesn’t reflect that. He appeared in two games for the Phantoms over the weekend.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers